First, the essential news: Lady Gaga got on stage wearing a nun’s habit and departed wearing a clam-shell bra, a suggestion of a thong that vanished up her backside and a mop of yellow hair. And that was just the opening act.
Nevertheless, it was Justin Timberlake who dominated last night’s live broadcast of MTV’s typically glitzy Video Music Awards; he collected three moonmen and a “Vanguard Award,” the MTV equivalent of a lifetime achievement gong for performers not long into their 30s. “I don’t deserve the award,” Timberlake conceded in his acceptance speech, “but I’m not going to give it back.” He shared the credit with his former bandmates from ‘NSYNC, who joined him onstage for a show-stopping performance of “Girlfriend” and “Bye Bye Bye.” Taylor Swift and Selena Gomez leapt out of their seats to sing along. The brief performance triggered an explosion of nostalgic social media comments. “JT & NSYNC I fricken love you,” tweeted Jersey Shore star Snooki from the studio audience, adding: “You are LIFE.”
Disney Channel alum Miley Cyrus buried her kid-friendly image for good with a sultry performance of “We Can’t Stop” and “Blurred Lines.” The singer, 20, flanked by back-up dancers in teddy-bear costumes, stripped out of a silver-sequined leotard, down to a flesh-toned bikini and performed a lap-dance for Robin Thicke.
The award for best video with a social message went to Seattle native Macklemore for his gay-rights anthem, “Same Love.” Jason Collins, the first openly gay player for the NBA, introduced the 30-year-old rapper. “The only way things change is when you stand up for what you believe in,” Collins said.
A startling number of boos greeted hit boy band One Direction as they accepted the award for Best Song of the Summer for their “Best Song Ever.” An incensed Lady Gaga joined the Anglo-Irish quintet backstage and threw her supportive arms around their shoulders. “I just want to tell you that you deserve every bit of success that you have,” she said. Taylor Swift was less sympathetic. Fresh from a recent break-up with One Direction’s Harry Styles, Swift was caught on camera turning to Selena Gomez and apparently mouthing the words “Shut the f***up” as her ex took the stage. Later in the evening she delivered a subtle dig to Styles in her acceptance speech for Best Female Video for her song “I Knew You Were Trouble.” She said, “I also want to thank the person who inspired this song, who knows exactly who he is, because now I got one of these,” holding up her moonman to cheers.
Selena Gomez, Bruno Mars and Pink also took home awards. A full list of winners can be found here for those who are interested in the awards themselves. For those who are more interested in the drama that necessarily unfolds when every major pop star is gathered into one arena, a GIF of Taylor Swift perpetually dropping the F-bomb can be found here.